The surrender at Reims ended the major phase of the European Theater of WWII. The film dissolves from the surrender to Hitler in his early years of power, follows the rise of Nazism through the Munich Pact, the attack on Poland, the fall of France, and the Battle of Britain.
The draft law of 1940 is passed and American men are inducted into the Army. Large-scale maneuvers are held in 1941. Pearl Harbor is bombed and Franklin Roosevelt asks Congress for a declaration of war.
Americans arrive in Britain, try to get along with the British civilians, and are made ready physically and mentally to fight the Germans. The Eighth Air Force begins its bombing offensive, and the decision is made to invade French North Africa.
The Troops of Operation Torch come from the U.S. and Britain. U.S. industry is shown going to full war production. Equipment is shown being loaded up for transport to North Africa, and the landings are made successfully.
Eisenhower has to deal with keeping the French in North Africa from causing trouble in the American rear, while at the same time advancing into Tunisia to destroy the Afrika Korps. The Casablanca Conference is shown.
Eisenhower describes how the Allies squeezed Rommel's forces in Tunisia. The Afrika Korps attacks to the Kasserine Pass but is pushed back thanks to Patton. Allied air power helps win the day, the U.S. and British 8th Armies meet, and Tunis falls.
The decision is made at Casablanca to invade Sicily. Pantelleria is bombed and surrenders. The invasion convoys come after an airborne drop, and after a major storm. The landings are made and counterattacks weathered. Sicily is conquered by August 17th, 1943.
General Montgomery attacks Italy across the Strait of Messina. A landing is made at Salerno to coincide with Italy's surrender, after Italy's fleet surrenders at Malta. The Germans resist the Salerno landing strongly. After 7 days the Allies manage to push back the enemy and link up with Montgomery's forces coming from the south. Naples is taken on October 13, 1943. FDR, Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek meet in Cairo.
On July 25th, 1943, Benito Mussolini is ousted from power. We then flashback to his rise to power, including the Fascist march on Rome in November, 1922. In 1936 Ethiopia is invaded. The Axis Pact is proclaimed in 1938, followed by the invasion of Albania in 1939. In 1940, Italy gets into the Second World War, and invades Greece and Egypt, only to be defeated. After Mussolini's ouster, the Germans occupy the country and rescue him from captivity. Rome is liberated in June, 1944, and atrocities by the Germans are uncovered. Mussolini is executed in April, 1945.
The Italian campaign was termed by most GIs as the toughest campaign in the European Theater. A GI, now in a veteran's hospital, reminisces over scenes of the Italian campaign, on the elements which made it such a tough fight.
Eisenhower tours the Italian Front in December, 1943. The terrain and weather make life difficult for Allied troops. Pontoon bridges collapse in the raging rivers. Eisenhower leaves for Tunisia to plan the Anzio campaign. The landing is made in January, 1944. The Germans attack and put the Anzio landing in peril, but the Allies hold on. After nearly six months of battle, the breakout is made and Rome is liberated. Eisenhower is sent to London to prepare for the Normandy invasion.
Eisenhower works with the Allied Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan the invasion of France and beyond. The Ruhr is featured because of coal and industry. German defenses are shown, including naval mines. Reinforcements come from the U.S. and Canada, both ground and air units. Allied maneuvers are shown. The "Mulberry" harbors are assembled. The air campaign again French railroads cuts off the beaches. Eisenhower inspects the troops to boost morale and get the men to talk to him. The ships are loaded for the Channel crossing. A storm causes D-Day to move to June 6th.
Paratroops are dropped into France in the early hours of June 6th. Forty-one hundred Allied ships bring the men and equipment across the Channel. Gliders bring more firepower to the paratroops. Allied warships duel with German coastal guns. American, British and Canadian troops make their landings against heavy German fire. Three thousand Americans are killed, wounded or missing on Omaha Beach that day. But the beachhead is secure and the Allied push inland.
Eisenhower inspects the landing beaches and we see the "Mulberry" harbors put in place along the Normandy beaches. Airfields are built and supplies offloaded. V-1 rockets attack London. We see the Germans build V-2 rockets. Storms wreck a Mulberry harbor and damage the other. Cherbourg is taken, but is wrecked by the Germans. The British and Canadians work to take Caen. Operation Cobra is launched to break out of Normandy.
The German attack at Mortain is defeated with the help of Allied air power. The Allies cut off large German forces at the Falaise pocket. One hundred thousand Germans are captured. The Brittany Peninsula is cleared of the enemy. Paris' capture in 1940 is recalled as well as its occupation. The Resistance rises against the Germans as the Americans and Free French close in. LeClerc's 2nd French Armored Division enters on August 24th, 1944. The U.S. 4th Division joins them to help clear out the Germans on the 25th. A victory parade is held with De Gaulle in the lead.
Operation Anvil-Dragoon lands in Southern France on August 15, 1944. The troops land against light resistance which gets stronger as they move north. The role of the Maquis is highlighted. The Germans suffer heavy losses. On September 11th, 1944 the link up is made between the U.S. Third and Seventh Armies, making a continuous Allied front in France. The Germans make their stand before the German border. Operation Market Garden tries and fails to capture bridges on the Northern Rhine.
The supply services strain to the utmost to supply the Allied advance. Equipment was offloaded at the "Mulberry" harbor as well as at Cherbourg. Black troops are featured as drivers for the "Red Ball Highways," which brought supplies to the Allied front. These lines ran 700 miles. The British take the port of Antwerp largely intact on September 4th. The Germans still held the approaches to Antwerp, and the British and Canadians fight to clear the mouth of the Scheldt River so the port can be used. By the end of November, 1944, Antwerp received supply ships. Antwerp is...
This film recounts the air offensive against Nazi Germany after the RAF had successfully repulsed the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. The first low-level bombing raid in Europe, the Ploesti raid of August, 1943, is shown in this installment, followed by a description of the "round the clock" bombing offensive, with the U.S. Eighth Air Force attacking Germany by day, and RAF Bomber Command attacking at night.
The opening shows the American capture of Strasbourg from the Germans, followed by the leave facilities for American servicemen. Hitler is shown with General Jodl planning the Battle of the Bulge. The German attack is a surprise blow, which the Allies turn back by pushing the enemy back to his starting point.
The Allies cross the Rhine River into Germany in the early part of 1945. The Canadians cross in February, followed by the Americans and British, with the Americans taking Cologne and crossing river at Remagen. Winston Churchill visits the front and crosses the river himself in a landing boat.
The Western Allies entrap a large part of the German Army in the Ruhr Pocket, and captures some 325,000 enemy soldiers. The Americans and Russians meet at Torgau on the Elbe River. The Russians take Berlin, and German forces surrender in Europe and Italy. Eisenhower also inspects a concentration camp.
This installment talks about the lessons learned, both military and diplomatic, about coalition warfare. It includes a reenactment of the Alamogordo atomic bomb test, as well as it's use against Japan.
Russian and American attitudes about fighting war are compared. The Germans surrender to Zhukov, and Eisenhower goes to Moscow. The Berlin Blockade is mentioned, and the UN founding conference is shown.
This final installment is review of the entire series. Highlights deal with the rise of Naziism, concluding with the burning of London; President Roosevelt's declaration of war and the first joint Allied campaign in North America; the campaign onto the European continent across Sicily to Italy; the planning and execution of the mighty invasion of the coast of France; D-Day; the Liberating of Paris; the Battle of the Bulge; Crossing of the Rhine; and Meeting with the Russians at the Elbe.